/ 19 August 2022

Despite last-minute drama, King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini’s entering-the- kraal ceremony to go ahead

Prince Misuzulu
Zulu monarch, Misuzulu ka Zwelithini (C). (Photo by Gallo Images/Sunday Times/ Sandile Ndlovu)

The coronation process for King Misuzulu ka Zwelithini will go ahead on Saturday despite the supreme court of appeal granting a competing faction of the royal house leave to appeal against a judgment dismissing their contestation of the late king Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu’s will.

Neither the court ruling nor the announcement of the king’s brother, Buzabazi ka Zwelithini, as a third contender for the throne by the monarch’s uncles on Thursday will stop the performance of the entering-the-kraal ceremony by Misuzulu.

The daughters of the late king’s first wife, queen Sibongile Zulu, princesses Ntandoyenkosi Zulu and Ntombisuthu Zulu-Dama, had gone to the SCA after the high court in Pietermaritzburg had dismissed their challenge to the will’s legitimacy. The court handed down an order in their favour by the SCA on Friday morning.

The monarch’s spokesperson, Shalo Mbatha, confirmed that the ceremony, part of the process towards Misuzulu’s coronation, tentatively scheduled to be held on Heritage Day, would go ahead.

“The court application was not challenging the coronation process, but was challenging the will, so at this stage we are proceeding as planned,” Mbatha said.

Liezel van der Merwe, spokesperson for Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch, also confirmed that ruling would not affect the weekend’s events.

Buthelezi has backed Misuzulu as monarch and has been highly critical of the claims to the throne of both Buzabazi and Simakade ka Zwelithini, who last weekend performed his own entering-the-kraal ceremony at another of their late father’s palaces.

“I have confirmed with the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation and the monarch’s legal team that the SCA ruling is of no consequence for this weekend’s activities and it will go ahead as planned,” Van der Merwe said.

The ceremony is set to take place on Saturday morning at the KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace at Ulundi, with the provincial and national government preparing for the event since early in the week.

The event has been endorsed by the provincial government, which funds the monarch to the tune of R67 million a year  and which will be handling protocol for the event.

On Friday morning footage appeared on social media of the monarch, accompanied by warriors, returning from a royal hunt with the body of a lion which had been shot the night before for the purposes of the ceremony.

On Thursday, Zwelithini’s brothers called a media briefing in Johannesburg at which they rejected the installation of Misuzulu as monarch and named Buzabazi ka Zwelithini as the rightful heir to the throne.

Buzabazi is the fourth son of the late king and queen Buhle kaMathe, his second wife.

At the briefing, Mathubesizwe ka Bhekuzulu said that the surviving siblings of the late monarch had the right to name his successor but had been ignored in the process.

Mathubesizwe said he, Vulindlela ka Bhekuzulu and Mbonisi ka Bhekzulu, the last three surviving brothers of the late monarch, had chosen Buzabazi to become king because of his relationship with his father.

The late monarch had “told us how he wanted things in the royal house to be done”, yet his siblings were being ignored and the coronation was being organised by people who were “unknown to the royal house”, he said.

Last month, Mbonisi kaBhekuzulu, another of the late king’s brothers, went to court to try to stop the coronation of Misuzulu, but the matter was struck off the roll.

A criminal case has also been opened with the Hawks over the alleged forging of the will upon which the decision to install Misuzulu was based.

The authenticity of the will is also subject to a high court challenge, which is yet to be heard.

Last month the Mail & Guardian reported that the police handwriting specialist  who had analysed the will had found that it was not signed by the monarch.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has recognised Misuzulu as the official Zulu monarch, but his coronation has been delayed by the legal battle over the throne.

Provincial government spokesperson Mdabe Sibiya said the province preferred not to comment.

“The KwaZulu-Natal government respects the Zulu royal family and would not want to have side commentary on such sensitive matters involving the elders,” Sibiya said.